Question of the Week
Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?
By: Tony Butcher
A drab, grey, miserable, cold and drizzly day at the home of the most inoffensive club in London. I was hoping for a bonanza of bad hats in this bohemian side-alley, but had to be content with an outrageous purple poncho (near the players' tunnel) and a refugee from the Parisian Left bank.
"We've come to spoil your party"
Queens Park Rangers 0 Grimsby Town 1
18 Mar 2001, Nationwide League Division 1
The pre-match entertainment was provided by Peter Crouch dressed as John Travolta, dancing on some corrugated plastic. Or at least we mistook a bloke on stilts for QPR's Ormandroydian genetic quirk. Does "family fun" equate to 1970s disco records these days? I suppose it's healthier than mime artists and Mr Punch. The elongated Travolta was joined by a woman in a sparkly gold suit and cowboy hat, and then 6 purple dancers. Wayne Burnett was momentarily distracted from jogging lightly and wore a very perplexed look.
No surprises in the positions, Donovan was where he should always be - right wing, Allen and Cornwall played as a front two. One oddity was the Town kit, the red one. Everyone seemed to be wearing extra long, extra large shorts. Allen's knees were not visible, and I challenged at least one person who claimed they could see Campbell's and McDermott's. Compared to QPR our players looked tiny, and the shorts just looked silly.
The pitch? Very wet and muddy. Not helped by the ground staff dragging the corrugated sheets across the turf, causing ruts.
Town kicked off towards the QPR popular end (the right as seen on Television), which meant that Wales' official number 5 or 6 'keeper stood in front of the Town 5-600 (there may have been more in the upper tier). QPR started "enthusiastically", which translates into English as they ran around a lot and kicked the ball up to Crouch as quickly as possible. The whole of the first half can be characterised as "get it to Crouchy". The first chance came after about 4 minutes. Gallimore attempted to slide across the right-winger and welly the ball away. He missed everything. The right-winger bombed down the touchline, whipped in a cross towards Crouch. Groves headed the ball out to the right edge of the penalty area and Murray volleyed back low towards the bottom left corner of the goal. Coyne dived and parried the ball away, just missing Crouch. It was an excellent save as the shot came through two or three players.
Town strung at least three passes together a few minutes later. Not surprisingly, Cornwall and Allen were being out-muscled by the QPR back players. And even less surprisingly they weren't winning many headers. They did hint at danger a couple of times. Allen played a smart first time pass inside the QPR right back for Cornwall, who stepped inside the centre back and miss-hit a low shot a yard or two wide of the 'keepers near post. It hinted at possibilities, rather than excited the crowd.
QPR continued to chip up to Crouch (above), though Enhua and Groves won more headers than they lost. It was barely more than old-fashioned "percentages" football - the more you kick it into the box, the more chances you'll get. And after 11 or 12 minutes they got another chance. A cross from the QPR right skimmed off a defender's head to the far post, where two QPR players were unmarked. Kiwomya (I think), about 8 yards out, just past the far post, attempted to head down across Coyne into the bottom left hand corner of the goal. The ball skidded off the pitch and Coyne scrambled to his left, dived full length and swiped the ball past his left hand post with his right hand, just as a QPR forward was running in at the far post. Unorthodox, but brilliantly effective. The alarms bells were a-ringing, not just because there were a couple of unmarked players in the box, but the linesman had failed to flag for two offsides in that "move". Handyside and Croudson were warming up right next to the linesman and their views were made known (and their hands were up appealing too). Weirdly, Enhua didn't appeal.
The game lapsed into a pleasing torpor for 15 minutes or so. There was the appearance of danger, but nothing tangible. A couple of long shots, well wide. Loads of balls (I won't dignify them with the description passes) towards Stick-man, which caused some minor panics. At times it was like watching an under 10s game, with everyone running after the ball and hacking away at it when it came near. Fortunately for Town, QPR hadn't quite realised that Gallimore was having one of his bad days - he was, at various times, dopey, grumpy, sleepy and (in the end) happy. So only 4 of the 7 dwarfs today. It took him until the 41st minute to complete a task successfully - a rather good full-length slide tackle which took man, ball, ball boy, St John's Ambulanceman and part of an advertising hoarding.
Town did have a very, very brief period of pressure mid way through the half. A passing movement down the right involving Donovan and McDermott (with Burnett as the fulcrum) saw the ball played between full back and centre half for Allen, about 15 yards out near the corner of the penalty area. He turned and drilled in a low cross shot which was hacked away on the 6-yard box, with Cornwall lurking unmarked just beyond the far post. The ball was not cleared very well and Burnett miss-hit an attempted volley from 25 yards. It went very, very wide and bounced several times before crossing the bye-line. I can't remember any other danger created by Town, except an Enhua header from a corner on the right (taken by Donovan and swung away from goal) - it was scrambled away from somewhere near the foot of the 'keepers left hand post. Well, it was sufficiently close for us to justify an "oooh" to ourselves.
After about half an hour QPR should have scored. A bout of head tennis on the edge of the Town area resulted in Crouch heading over the back line for Kiwomya, about 8 yards out, unmarked, and right in the centre. He simply side foot the ball into Coyne's midriff. The fact that he was at least a yard offside didn't concern the linesman, who Andrew Lumbard's daughter claimed looked like her Maths teacher, Mr Kirk (a Mr Kirk, not the Mr Kirk). I think I would have preferred her teacher, as this bloke was poor.
Hey, that's it. There weren't any other chances in the first half. Ready completely mucked up an attempted overhead kick at the far post, following a corner from the QPR right. Sir, you ain't no Peter Handyside. Crouch fell over whilst trying an overhead kick from the centre of the goal, 15 yards out. They whacked a free kick 3 yards wide after Couch had won a free kick by diving. Groves was incensed and had a real go at the referee for this. Some one commented that Couch went down in instalments. This doesn't quite give the full flavour of his fall - a full repayment mortgage over 25 years, rather than mere instalments. It was one of many very weak decisions by the referee, who seemed to give up trying to decide why Crouch had stumbled/fallen/missed the ball. One in three challenges on Crouch brought QPR a free kick, and I can't remember any being given against him. The referee obviously overlooked the possibility that stick-boy fell over because he is unable to co-ordinate two feet, two knees and a brain. Crouch even tripped himself up at one stage. He did show one piece of skill when he knocked the ball over Groves' head and hit a first time shotâ€¦.15.2 yards wide. I did say one piece of skill. Shooting wasn't it.
It was satisfyingly poor stuff, one to quieten any crowd, let alone a family fun day crowd who barely knew where the ground was (it was difficult to get to the ground as blue clad dads and kids were unable to find the turnstiles). The roar when the teams ran onto the pitch was more like the sound you used to get at those schoolboy internationals beloved of ITV every May. Coyne had the aura of invincibility. Our own Danny Invincible. He had a real shout at Enhua and Gallimore a couple of times for slack play, and was visibly organising the defence, rather than being a passive reactor to events. Burnett was noticeable for his defensive play - he kept winning headers at the near post, cutting out crosses and corners, and he seemed to be everywhere. Groves looked to be particularly fired up for this game - he was even arguing with the referee. The strikers tried, with Allen looking less fit than Cornwall, which isn't saying much at all.
So 0-0 at half time. We deserved the nil for the fact Town barely got over the half way line and QPR definitely deserved it because they were just, well, rubbish. They played like a disorganised Wycombe.
Half time: QPR 0 Grimsby Town 0
Stu's half time toilet talk
"That lad'll snap in the wind".
The report continues in the second half
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